Market snapshot: Sarasota's Turtle Rock at Palmer Ranch



Turtle Rock, a deed-restricted community located on the southern end of Palmer Ranch, is a popular spot for good reasons. It has great natural beauty, amenities and neighborhood atmosphere. There are two guard-attended, gated entrances, one on Palmer Ranch Parkway — the northern border — and the other on Central Sarasota Parkway to the south.

When Turtle Rock was developed in the 1990s, half of its more than 500 acres were set aside for wetlands, moist-soil hammocks and lush, tropical preserves. As a result, wildlife abounds there — bobcats, deer, the occasional Florida panther, alligators and a host of birds.

Market Snapshot: Turtle Rock"Members of the Audubon Society have visited to count the species we have here," said Kathrin Harris, a resident since 1998.

Most of Turtle Rock's 758 homes sit on half-acre lots, although a few are larger. (FOR A PHOTO GALLERY, CLICK ON THIS LINK.) Two subdivisions within the community, Somerset and Savannah, consist of smaller, maintenance-free homes. Custom builders Todd Johnston, John Cannon, Arthur Rutenberg/M. Pete McNabb and Lee Wetherington built houses in a variety of styles and interior layouts.

Many of the homes back onto the 17 lakes or more than 20 preserves, offering scenic vistas and a sense of serenity in natural surroundings.

There are other "green" aspects. Turtle Rock was one of the earliest communities in Florida, and the first in Sarasota County, to switch to solar power for its nighttime illumination. (The Savannah subdivision opted out and continues to use gas lanterns.)

Harris, who has been on the board of the homeowners association for six and a half years, still remembers the change over from gas in 2007. "We had a committee study solar, which tried to find other communities in Florida to see how it worked and what the maintenance issues were, but we could find only one other place, in Orlando, that had it."

The investment in solar energy was made without requiring an extra fee assessment. The homeowners' assocation took out a loan and used the annual gas reserve in the budget to repay it in less than five years.

In addition to its impressive physical attributes, Turtle Rock has a strong sense of community. Talk to its current and former residents, and they all mention the congenial, neighborly atmosphere.

Stephanie Bugatti, a Realtor for Michael Saunders & Co., who has been a top producer in the neighborhood for several years, moved there from Los Angeles with her two young children. What drew her to Turtle Rock initially were the excellent schools — Ashton Elementary, Sarasota Middle and Riverview High School.

"We've lived there for 12 years and have enjoyed every minute of it," she said. "It's very family friendly."

Nancie Kalin, a colleague of Bugatti's at Michael Saunders, agrees. She used to live in Turtle Rock when she was rearing her two children. "We loved it. It's a great neighborhood," she said.

She pointed to the community center, swimming pool, playground and other amenities.

"My children loved the basketball and tennis courts," Kalin said. "From a parent's standpoint, there is also the safety because of the gate, so you're comfortable allowing your children to ride their bikes to friends' houses."

School buses come inside to pick-up points for elementary school children along Turtle Rock Boulevard. The older kids go to the community center for pickup and drop off.

But Turtle Rock is not just family oriented. The neighborhood's diverse population includes retires, working professionals without children and empty nesters.

"About 15 to 20 percent are snowbirds, and many of them like it so much, they become year-round residents," Harris said.

There is plenty for them to do.

The athletically minded can use the hiking trail that wends its way through the preserves and go canoeing in the lakes. The Legacy Trail runs along the western border of the community. Nearby parks offer picnic and further hiking and biking opportunities. The Potter Park YMCA is just down Central Sarasota Parkway, and several golf courses are in close proximity.

The Westfield Sarasota Square Mall and its shops, food court and cinemas are just down the street. Siesta Key's beaches are an easy drive away, and downtown is not much farther.

There are also lots of community activities, sponsored by three clubs — women's, men's and family — all under the umbrella of the homeowners' association.

"If you can think of it, they're doing it," says Harris said.

No wonder Turtle Rock has been a popular, busy neighborhood from a real estate perspective. The numbers tell the story. According to Kalin, who has a listing at 8296 Nice Way, values have risen steadily over the last year and a half.

There were 60 sales in 2012, ranging from $266,000 to $880,000 and commanding an average price of $152.28 per square foot. To date, 2013 has seen 17 home transactions, from $266,000 to $600,000, at an average of $164.45 per square foot.

"That represents an increase of 9 percent," Kalin said.

Seven sales are pending, averaging $169.74 per square foot. The 11 properties on the market have asking prices from $315,000 to $715,000, or $177.35 per square foot.

"I love listings in Turtle Rock because it's easy to sell there," Kalin said.


Last modified: June 23, 2013
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